Just Aged By A Decade (Screenplay)

Ishizuka – Melbourne CBD. One of the best designed basement restaurants to grace Melbourne streets.

INT. JAPANESE RESTAURANT – EVENING

A high-end Japanese restaurant, with ultra modern aesthetic. It’s cold, utilitarian, dark and sterile, like the sushi that is currently being eaten by the two men.

The whole setting is intimate, with a sharp bright light over the two men like a halo, casting the rest of the restaurant in shadow and it is very quiet, only the tinkle of sake cups against tables, chopsticks scraping against ceramic, small sighs of satisfaction.

One is younger, slick, slim, and sharp. He has an intelligent face, and oozes confidence, maturity and ruthlessness. A man at the top of his game.

The other man is older, mysterious and quiet. Salt and pepper mark his dark hair, crow-feet at the edges of his eyes. A professional on the verge of retirement. They are both suited and serious.

Their dialogue’s tone is serious and respectful.

YOUNG MAN

What do you think?

OLD MAN

What do I think? I think you should take it.

YOUNG MAN

Reason?

OLD MAN

It’s too lucrative not to. Jobs like these come once in a lifetime. You’d be a fool not to take it.

YOUNG MAN

I’d be a dead fool if I do.

OLD MAN

You’ve done jobs. You’re aware of the risks. Mitigate them.

The Young Man falls silent. He stares down at his plate. Pondering. The Old Man continues eating his sushi, thoughtfully dipping the raw fish into a soy sauce plate, savouring the flavours.

YOUNG MAN

If you were me, would you do it?

OLD MAN

I am you, just aged by a decade. Why else do you think I am telling you to do it?

A sharply dressed WAITRESS swings by with a bottle of sake

WAITRESS

Would you like a refill gentlemen?

Both men nod and wait for the Waitress to finish pouring before resuming their conversation. The Young Man fishes into his blazer and takes out a nicotine patch, applying it on the inside of his wrist, just past his expensive watch.

The Old Man nods approvingly.

OLD MAN

How is it going?

YOUNG MAN

Withdrawal symptoms are abating. The doctor says I’ll be off these inside of 2 months.

OLD MAN

Impressive, considering your habit.

YOUNG MAN

*grunts dismissively* This job proposal isn’t helping me.

OLD MAN

We’ve done this routine before. What’s gotten you spooked this time?

YOUNG MAN

It’s Zurich. Rules are different when you deal with gnomes.

OLD MAN

Reason?

YOUNG MAN

Did you read through the dossier I sent you?

OLD MAN

Of course.

YOUNG MAN

That’s your reason.

The Old Man pauses for a moment and looks off, recalling the important details in the brief the Young Man made. The Young Man fidgets with the nicotine patch, his discomfort with the job obvious.

OLD MAN

Your main concern, are the people?

YOUNG MAN

Yes. Zurich isn’t a place where you can be anonymous. The gnomes that guard the gold, aren’t just bankers. They got families that help them. Secrecy and privacy aren’t just nouns over there, they’re a religion and a culture. I might get past the front door, but there’s no way I can sneak out the back door, because the back door is a whole goddamn country.

The Old Man stares through the Young man and gives a small knowing smile.

OLD MAN

You’ve never tried a long con?

YOUNG MAN

No. *pauses* How long are we talking here?

OLD MAN

Enough for those patches to be gone forever.

The Young Man raises his eyebrow in bewilderment and amazement. He stops fidgeting with the nicotine patch.

YOUNG MAN

Just so we are on the same page here … you want me to plan a job that will last 2-3 months?

OLD MAN

It’s been done.

YOUNG MAN

Doesn’t this just increases my chances of getting caught?

OLD MAN

It can also decrease your chances.

The Young Man mulls the thought over. The patch is forgotten. His hands are still. The Waitress swings by again.

WAITRESS

Would you gentlemen like dessert?

The Old Man smiles at her.

OLD MAN

I will have a couple of your freshly made mochi rice cakes. Green tea and red bean. My colleague here, will have a serving of Yamasaki Whiskey strawberries. Thank you.

The Waitress curtsies and walk away. The Young Man begins to ponder more on the Old Man’s proposal, his curiosity getting the better of him.

YOUNG MAN

2-3 months. That’s basically double the length of my normal jobs. Planning and execution. I’m going to need funding.

OLD MAN

The client shouldn’t complain, if they want you in Zurich.

YOUNG MAN

This is something I’ve never attempted before. A long con, in a foreign country. There are lot of things that could go wrong and not to mention the inexperience involved.

OLD MAN

Throughout my career, I’ve lost a lot of blood to cover for any mistakes you might make.

YOUNG MAN

In this length of time, I could do 4 scores.

OLD MAN

This is a lifetime opportunity. A career definer. Men like us, can do these jobs and become legends. Stories that ring for eternity. How else did you find me?

The Young Man thinks back to when he first met the Old Man. He smiles in recognition.

YOUNG MAN

The Windsor Job. Are you implying, that this will be my Windsor Job?

OLD MAN

*shrugs* Depends on your gnome’s French and German.

The Waitress comes around and plates the desserts in front of them.

WAITRESS

Enjoy gentlemen.

The Young Man feels inspired after taking a bite of the whiskey-soaked strawberries. He looks up at his mentor with renewed respect and a cunning expression creeps across his intelligent face.

YOUNG MAN

What would you do?

The Old Man nods approvingly. Now they were getting somewhere. Progress was being made.

OLD MAN

Always start with a woman …

Author’s Note

A big piece of criticism I got from my previous screenplay was the lack of dialogue and the fact that if felt too much like a novel.

I took that to heart and got to reading more screenplays. Especially a lot more Tarantino.

Reading his work, really allowed to realise that I should just trim, trim and trim more and more, until it becomes a very bare-bones affair. Screenplays are stories that have the bare minimum, but maximum impact.

So I tried to work on dialogue and really flesh out the characters more.

I feel like this reads a bit clearer than my first attempt and am praying my dialogue isn’t too stilted.

I still got a long way to go before I can match anything written by Baumbach, Sorkin or Tarantino.

But I feel like I got a better grasp of what it takes to write a screenplay.

I think?

If not, it’s back to reading more and more. Because the only way to improve writing is to read.

~ Damocles.

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